Isn’t she talking yet?

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Isn’t she talking yet?

I was completely surprised that this woman standing behind me at the grocery store was asking me this question, but then saw the small 6-year-old-ish child sitting in the front of her full cart and instantly understood.

She’s a mom. She feels she has the right to talk this way to other moms with younger children than her own.

I hadn’t realized she’d been making smiley faces at my daughter while I’d been busily unloading my cart. All I heard was the unending chatter that my wee tot exudes constantly that I’ve begun to understand in my own mommy-translation way.

Nope, I said. She’s not talking yet. She’s busy streaming, trying to pronounce, and pointing. But, she’s not talking yet.

Well, do you read to her – does she interact with other speaking children?

Okay, I totally admit to feeling like this conversation was going a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m all-good with where my daughter’s at as far as her language skills go, and don’t feel that she’s dealing with any delay or developmental issues.

As I was attempting to get my sleep-deprived brain to come up with a witty remark, the cashier asking how I was paying saved me. I flashed a smile at my new mommy friend, and completed my grocery transaction.

And then my daughter super-saved the day by waving and saying bah-bye in her adorable babe way.

I just about kissed her to death as we walked out of the store.

Fairyland + camera disaster = a winning day!

Yesterday we headed out for a play date with our good friends at Fairyland. Yes, there is such a place – and in all honesty, it’s pretty cool. The hubs and I had our doubts, but upon arrival at the gates of Fairyland, we all gawked in awe and glee. This was the moment I reached for my camera to document the moment, and the camera – just like my daughter had this week, fell and went boom.

My heart wrenched into a wicked knot, I grabbed at the camera knowing full well from the horrid sound it had made when it hit the ground that it was all over. The camera had really fallen and went boom. And, when I turned it on, it made a sick-whirring-grinding noise.

So, my husband is a photographer (seriously, check out these before and after pictures!), but only had his cell phone along. He was put in charge of documenting the day while I tried not to stress over the loss of my camera. We made our way through wonderful Fairyland and enjoyed a beautiful day with our friends. I put my camera disaster in my back pocket and decided to move on.

That is, until we got into the car! My husband had already determined what my new camera would be – which was basically the new camera he was dreaming of with all these fun settings, things, buttons, knobs, adjustments…

My new-camera-buying heart sank as I listened to his excitement. I knew I needed to put my foot down and stand up for myself. I felt a fight coming on, the super-silent treatment, and maybe a later heated “discussion” as to why I wasn’t going to go with his camera-of-choice.

But, I did it! I stood my ground, told him to buy his own dream point-and-shoot camera, and let me get what I wanted. After a short silent treatment, he relented and I won!


I’m off to go camera shopping! I’ll let you know what I pick up.

Baby went boom

© Sarah Lipoff

Well, it finally happened. My lovely daughter tumbled down the stairs and we had our first real-life emergency situation. Let’s face it – some sort of accident was bound to happen eventually. Once our daughter was born I prepared for the worst by having important numbers next to the home phone (and locked in my cell), staying updated on emergency procedures, and taking baby CPR.

I also hoped and hoped we would never have an actual emergency.

Our house is a split-level with one length of stairs off the living room, a landing, and then another couple of stairs. Once my daughter could scoot herself around, we installed a baby gate. As soon as she was able to walk, the hubs and I tried to be diligent about communicating if the gate was open or closed. But, the other day, it was left open (we both thought the other had shut it), which resulted in a horrid bumping noise and then the screaming wail of our poor babe.

As I ran to her everything switched into super-slow motion. All those emergency numbers went buzzing through my head and I tried to determine if my husband should start the car. I was hoping she didn’t have any bones popping out (because I might toss my breakfast) along with wondering what DO you bring to the emergency room in an emergency. And, I wished upon every single thing I could think of that she was OKAY.

I checked her head for large indentations, gently prodded her body for jutting bones, and held my whimpering daughter tight while offering her lots and lots of loving. There didn’t seem to be any observable signs of damage, but I was totally freaking out imagining internal bleeding, hemorrhaging, brain damage….

Instead of rushing off to the emergency room, I opted for a call to my pediatrician’s office. Luckily, there is an emergency on-call nurse for such occasions. I was reassured that babes ARE indeed made of rubber (well, not really) and she was going to be just fine. I was told to offer a cold compress, watch to see if she spiked a temperature, seemed lethargic or vomited, and to give her a warm comforting bath before bed to ease any sore muscles.

I took a couple deep breaths and calmed myself down. Along with caring for my daughter, I knew I needed to remain relaxed so she would understand that everything WAS okay. At least I didn’t find her chugging the cleaner under the sink.

Which reminds me – I better make sure all the cupboard door locks are in place. And, I think I’ll double-check that the wall sockets are plugged. Probably not a bad idea to install some window locks, too. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

What was your first emergency with baby?

Preschool – am I ready?

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

It finally hit me this morning that my daughter is going to preschool in a couple of weeks. She’s not alone, though. I’m heading back to the classroom, too.

After staying home with my wee tot for the last several months, it’s time for us BOTH to head out into the world. I need to shower daily and interact with others. My daughter is tired of looking at me, the living room, the walk around the block, and the playground down the street.

BUT. I can’t BELIEVE she is old enough to hit the preschool scene and start hanging with other kids and eating her own little lunch and playing on the playground…..

I’m getting a bit teary-eyed thinking about it.

I haven’t even thought about my new job and what I should be doing to get ready for the upcoming school year.


Instead, I’m all consumed with the idea of my daughter and her first educational experience. I’m worried if she’ll get along with the other children, pull hair or bite, and sit during circle time. I’ve always been the one to have that “talk” with parents when their child was the one misbehaving. Am I ready for the possibility that I might be on the other side?

I was up all night wondering if I am ready for preschool? I guess we’ll find out…

Water play for kids

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

It was finally hot today, making my daughter and I search out fun ways to play and stay cool at the same time. My daughter loves the water and I’m always looking for ways to mix up water play to keep her interested along with encouraging some of her budding skills.

Simple activities such as pouring water from one container into another is an actual skill builder for wee tots. Not only is she learning about full and empty – basic beginning math skills, but also how to move her hand and body to pour water, which encourages her fine and gross motor skills. Along with exploring new skills, my babe is also learning more about the world around her through her senses, especially her sense of feel!

Well, she likes to taste the water, too. A lot.

What’s great about water play is that it can turn into a science lesson by having your child water the plants in the yard using cups of water and learning more about the different flowers and trees in your yard. An art activity can easily happen when a brush is introduced to the mix and she’s encouraged to paint on what’s around her, like the side of the house, the outdoor furniture, the cat…

And, water is FREE. No one can beat that!

So, get out the kiddie pool, a washtub, or some big plastic containers and fill with a couple of inches of water. Toss in some plastic measuring cups, paint brushes, and other items for a watery-good time! We sure had fun!

Healthful Mondays: Walking with babes (and moms behaving badly)

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Walking is the way I lost about 20 pounds after the birth of my daughter. I try to walk every day, whether it’s just around the block or along one of the great trails in my area. There’s something about spending time with your child while they are safely tucked into a stroller and sharing the wonders of the world. I invested in a great walking stroller when my daughter was born, and haven’t regretted it since.

Taking a walk is a great way to relieve stress, get the heart rate bumping, and create long lean muscles in the legs, which us women are always dreaming of. Walking is nice and safe, low impact, and doesn’t involve hurtling or hitting moving objects (which always makes me flinch). And, it’s free. WIN!

I’m always on the lookout for other walking mums, ready to hook-up with others that enjoy bonding with their babes while enjoying outdoor exercise. Sometimes I luck out, other times, not so much.

Yesterday, I headed out for one of my favorite walks ready for an interactive experience with my daughter full of stopping to look at leaves, waving at dogs, and general human interaction with strangers.  It was a lovely day – all crisp and bright. The leaves were all shiny and blowing around and it created a cool juxtaposition with the sporadic palm trees. The wee one and I were having a great time enjoying some waving, babbling, and strollering.

I was coming up to another mom walking with a stroller. Could this be an opportunity to make friends – to start a conversation with a fellow mom? As I got a bit closer I could hear her talking and thought how awesome it was that she was chatting away with her child (just like I do!). I walked a little faster trying to catch up. As I got closer I got my smile ready and made sure I didn’t have anything stuck in my teeth that would scare away my future best friend.

I was ready to pass. I came along side and said a quiet, “hello.” She didn’t turn her head, so I said it a bit louder. My future best friend turned to me, raised her hand in the air, and gave me the “one minute” gesture. It was then, at that sad gut wrenching moment I realized she wasn’t chatting happily away at her adorable child, but into a small hidden obnoxious and ridiculous earphone.

I looked down at her small child and smiled big and gave him a super large wave. So did my daughter. I looked back at his mom, who was still talking into her phone, and then back to the boy. I shrugged my shoulders and passed him by.

I was so sad. I understand that sometimes mommies need to make important phone calls or listen to their iPods, but does it have to be when they are spending time with their kids – especially in the great outdoors? What an opportunity to share something special with your child, and encourage her development, wasted.

I decided not to let it bother me and sang the ABC’s with my daughter instead. She doesn’t really know the words yet but she likes to yell along.

The painting

I had an old canvas lying about, and after doing our circle art activity the other day, was inspired to attack it – with the babe! I figured she’d help create a wonderfully modern art creation.

And, she sure did.

Like what you see? YOU can do it, too! All you need is a canvas of any size, some acrylic paints, old clothes (for you and the babe), and lots and lots of patience.

It also helps to have no expectations for the outcome of the painting, and let your little one go with what feels right for her. I moved the canvas around to help my daughter paint the spots that were just out of reach, and encouraged her to use big-bold brush strokes.

We had a great time working together – and enjoying a bath when we were done!

Pasta, peas, peanut butter, and pineapple

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

I am having a hard time coming up with food that keeps my babe happy. She pretty much likes cheese. All kinds of cheese. Her first word was cheese and it is super cute that she says it all the time – but that’s the thing. She says it ALL THE TIME.

Along with cheese, my lovely daughter likes grapes. So, if she could eat cheese and grapes for every meal, she’d be a happy camper. Sadly, grapes and cheese will not sustain a wee tot, so other items need to be introduced. Rarely do these items pass the toss-to-the-floor test. So when I find a winner, I am a pleased mama.

Yesterday I discovered a magic combination. Peanut butter, pasta, peas, and pineapple – a wonderful “p” palooza – along with some carrots, soy sauce, and an ice-cube. It’s super simple, and also quite tasty! If your babe likes chicken or tofu, they would be lovely additions, too.


2 cups cooked pasta of your choice

2 carrots chopped

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 cup chopped pineapple

2 Tablespoons peanut butter

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 ice-cube

seasoning to taste

*1/2 cup cubed cooked chicken or fresh tofu

Start by boiling up some of your babe’s favorite shaped pasta, enough to make 2-cups cooked, in some salted water. Add the chopped carrots to the pasta pot and let boil until everything is cooked through. While things bubble away, place 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, 1 cup chopped pineapple, the peanut butter, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 ice-cube in a bowl.

Strain the cooked pasta and carrots and then toss into the bowl, mixing together with the peanut butter and all the rest of the goodies. The ice-cube adds some extra moisture and cools the pasta (along with the frozen peas – if you use them). Once the peanut butter is evenly distributed, give the mix a taste and season as desired.

This is an easy meal that offers protein from the peanut butter, great fiber and vitamin C from the pineapple, along with additional fiber from those green peas and  loads of vitamin A.

And, it didn’t get tossed from the high chair at my house – hopefully it will withstand whatever food test your little one has, too!

Our cat loves snakes (me, not so much).

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Some of you may be aware of our cat and snake issue. It seems our cat is REALLY happy in our new house because she is bringing squiggly snake presents to us on a regular basis. I’m so glad she’s showering us with her cat-love, but I’ve had enough. Between picking up, re-depositing, and walking around the house twitching, I’m also pretty sleep deprived and having countless serpentine dreams.

I finally snapped a picture of the one of two (YES, two) snakes that made a visit to our home yesterday and was able to determine they are a harmless itty-bitty type of snake native to Northern California. SO, luckily they are no threat to us humans (other than being just icky). But the real question is, where are they ALL COMING FROM?!

The first night, I thought the cat had a piece of string or something, until I turned the light on and saw the string give a good slither. I totally freaked, started screaming, the cat went running, the baby started crying, the husband kept snoring, AND the snake made its way under the floorboards. I figured that would be the end of it.


The next afternoon, my husband made some interesting noises as he went down the stairs and then let out a good whooooop. The cat had deposited another wriggler in the hallway. I headed over (because I am the designated snake-wrangler), picked the little guy up with the help of a towel, and re-positioned him across the driveway in an area the cats DON’T GO.

And, then it was quiet for a couple of days.

Yesterday there was a double-header with a visit from a snake around the babe’s bedtime (also re-deposited far far away from the house in a non-cat visiting location) and then another late night. That one got thrown out the bedroom window with some pretty good force (sorry wee snake). I can’t fathom that these snakes are really the SAME snake, which then kept me up for the rest of the night as I imagined a den of snakes slithering about under the house.

There’s some old wood hanging out  under the deck off our bedroom, which also happens to be our snake-cat’s favorite hangout of the moment.

My plans for the day include donning long pants, socks that come up to my knees, boots, and going at the woodpile with a shovel to try to locate the darn snakes. Hopefully there wont be anymore. I don’t think I can take it.

Anyone interested in some brown snakes? They are free for the taking…

Healthful Mondays: SMILE!

© Sarah Lipoff

The other day I was in a rotten mood. Nothing seemed to be going the way I had planned and the baby wasn’t too excited about things, either. We were both pretty blah and neither of us was helping the other out in feeling much better about things. We were stuck in the car and I was stewing over events of the day. Then, along comes a zooming car – going really fast – and I assume there is going to be another bad situation to add to my day. But, instead of offering me a nasty hand gesture for driving too slow or cutting me off, the woman driving smiled and waved my way – beaming from ear to ear!

What can you do? I smiled back and shook my head in disbelief. Within a couple of minutes I found myself feeling a bit calmer and a little bit better.

Smiling is a unique thing. As babies we learn how to smile from countless hours of observing everyone smiling at us. At some point we realized that if we smiled back to all that smiling, oodles of positive attention would be showered upon us. When someone smiles at you – you smile back! No matter how old you are, what mood you are in, or what you are doing, many of us will return a smile, even to a total stranger.

When smiling, the face moves upward and seems more open. Many people show their teeth while smiling, their cheeks round, and their eyes shine. These are all characteristics that people find attractive and encourages others to feel comfortable and more accepting of you. Think about it, when you are in a public place and observing those around you, many times you are drawn to people who are smiling.

Along with helping us to look attractive, smiling releases endorphins and serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps you feel good and stabilizes mood. Just cracking a little smile alleviates stress and starts the process in the brain to change mood and behavior. When you are feeling positive, your whole body is happy. Your blood pressure goes down, your brain is active, and your stress levels balance out. I know when I am feeling depressed, watching a funny movie gets me smiling – and eventually laughing.

And, smiling is free! So give it a try before drowning your sorrows in something that costs money (like chocolate – lots of chocolate)!

The most important thing about smiling is that it is contagious. When you take the time to look someone in the eye and smile at them, they take notice of you and smile back. It is a mini-acknowledgement and acceptance of YOU! That makes everyone feel better, and then the smile gets passed on to someone else, and the chain of smiling begins! Everyone wins with a smile.

So get out there and start smiling! It will make you feel great and it might make someone’s day.